As the countdown to PyeongChang 2018 continues, this week’s Sport Week focuses on Para ice hockey, starting with an introduction to the sport.
Para ice hockey follows similar rules to its able-bodied version, with the main difference in the equipment used. Swap ice skates with sledges, and two hockey sticks instead of one, and you pretty much have Para ice hockey.
It is one of two team sports at the Paralympic Winter Games, featuring fast-paced and physical action that makes it a spectator favourite.
Para ice hockey was invented at a rehabilitation centre in Stockholm, Sweden, during the early 1960s by a group of Swedes who, despite their physical impairment, wanted to continue playing hockey. The sport made its Paralympic debut at Lillehammer 1994 in Norway.
In 2016, the sport was renamed and rebranded from IPC ice sledge hockey to Para ice hockey, and is governed by World Para Ice Hockey.
As in ice hockey, each team attempts to outscore its opponent by shooting the puck across the ice and into the opposing team's goal while also preventing the opposing team from scoring. Six players (including the goalkeeper) from each team are on the ice at one time.
The competition is a mixed team tournament, in which women can play alongside men. There are three 15-minute periods with 15-minute breaks. The match goes into overtime if the score is tied after the third period. If there is no goal in overtime, penalty shots are applied.
Players sit in specially designed sledges that have two hockey skate blades. Each player has two sticks with metal pics on the butt end that allow players to propel themselves. Goalkeeper wears leg pads, body pads, a helmet with a visor and a catcher glove to protect the athlete from pucks flying up to 100 km/h.
More information about Para ice hockey can be found online.
The Paralympic Winter Games take place in PyeongChang, South Korea from 9-18 March. Tickets can be purchased here.